Pros: Sound, build, comfort and design
Cons: Stock cable a bit long and it doesn't make me coffee
The Philps Fidelio X2 was purchased by me and I’m not in any way affiliated with Philips.
The Philips Fidelio X2 is Philips top of the line full size open headphones. I picked up my pair about five months ago and thought it was about time to post a review on them.
Built and accessories:
The Fidelio X2’s features 50 mm neodymium drivers in a fully open back design.
First impression when opening the box was very positive. The package felt exclusive and the headphones themselves feel very premium. Materials like real leather, aluminum, steel and pads filled with memory foam makes them both look and feel premium. I’ve got a couple of other mid-fi cans as well (SR325is. Q701, DT880) and none of them has the same feeling of quality as the X2’s.
Regarding the pads they’re detachable and said to be user replaceable but since Philips still doesn’t provide any spare pads I think it’s better to think of the pads as not replaceable. I really think it’s a shame that Philips didn’t add the pads to their line up the day they started to sell the X2’s.
Although the weigh as much as 380 grams they don’t feel heavy at all and I can use them for hours without any discomfort. I’ve got a very small head but I’ve got no problem wearing these for several hours. Initially the pads felt a bit stiff but after heavy usage for several months they’re now extremely comfortable and the pads seem to hold their shape really well.
The included cable is 3 meter long and terminated with 3,5mm plugs in both ends. Although the cable itself is pretty nice I swapped it for a shorter one almost immediately because I prefer a shorter one for comfort reasons. I think Philips should have included a shorter cable and an extension cable instead for better flexibility.
Included accessories are limited to the 3 m long cable, a 3.5 to 6.5mm adapter and a shirt clip.
Maximum power input
100 dB @ 1mW
3m 3.5mm to 3.5mm
I've used the Fidelio X2’s for well over 200 hours. I’ve used it with my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, FiiO X3, FiiO X3/Bluebird 6.0 combo, AQ Dragonfly/Cayin C5 combo, Geek Out 720 and Geek Out 720 combined with Matrix M-stage/Schiit Magni/Little Dot I+/Cayin C5. They’ve performed very well with all of the above but my favorite combination is the one with the Geek Out 720 and Matrix M-stage.
I’ve also used them quite a bit with Yamaha RX-A810 receiver watching movies and TV shows on late evenings and that’s also worked very well. I’ve also tried listening to music with them through the Yamaha and this just sound OK, a bit too boomy bass for my preference this way probably due to a quiet high output impedance o the receiver.
Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
Ane Brun – These Days
Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Alice in Chains – Them Bones
The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Celldweller – Unshakeable
Jack Johnson – Better Together
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
Dire Straits- So Far Away
Passenger – Let Her Go
Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
The overall sound signature on the Fidelio X2’S is full and well balanced with a small hump in the bass region. Although the X2’s are a full sounding headphone it still offers great clarity and details and there’s no sign of muddiness in the presentation.
Soundstage width is good even for a full size open headphone while depth and imaging in very good and probably one of, if not the, strongest parts in the way the X2’s sound.
The bass is probably the first thing one notice when listening to the X2’s. It’s very present and impactful for an open headphone. The bass is focused on the lower notes and only on very rare occasions does the bass get boomy and leaks into the midrange. The bass has very good layering and feels well controlled and integrated with the rest of the sound. I consider myself very sensitive to bass bleed and the X2’s really manage to stay just in line with what I can accept except with some very few albums/songs that’s recorded with a high bass presence (Jack Johnson’s “Better together” is an example of such a recording) being the “rare occasions” mentioned above.
The midrange doesn’t feel neither recessed nor up front but there’s a slight lift in the lower mids that makes the transaction from the lows smooth and overall sound smooth and full. Coming from something like one of the AKG 70X siblings the mids might feel recessed initially but once you adapt to the sound of the X2’s it just feels right. I really love my mids and it’s my impression that the X2’s delivers in every way in this area.
The treble is well controlled and in good balance with the rest of the frequencies. I’ve read reports about both grain and sibilance in the treble but fortunately this isn’t something my ears are not able to hear at all and if anything I could do with slightly more treble presence. That being said extension is very good and I’m not missing anything there.
Fidelio X2 vs AKG Q701:
Compared to the Fidelio X2 the Q701 has a pretty similar soundstage in both depth and width. The midrange (especially the higher mids) on the Q’s is more forward while overall sound is less full and bass impact and presence is also lower. The hump in the higher mids/lower highs gives the Q’s an overall brighter and more airy presentation, they’ve also have got more treble presence while treble extension is pretty similar.
While both headphones uses velour pads only the X2’s uses memory foam inside and this makes them more comfortable to wear for longer sessions. I also think that the self-adjusting headband on the X2’s does a better job keeping them in place although they weigh over 50% more. The X2’s also feels more solid in overall construction while the Q’s are a bit “plastic fantastic”.
Although the 62Ohm/93dB Q701’s are notorious for needing a lot of power they actually don’t need much more volume on the M-stage to reach the same listening level (11 vs 12 o’clock on the volume pot).
Fidelio X2 vs Grado SR325is:
Compared to the Fidelio X2 the Grado’s has a smaller soundstage width and lose out in depth as well. The midrange on the Grado’s is more forward while overall sound is less full and bass impact (especially sub-bass) and presence is also lower. The overall presentation of the Grado’s is more intimate, brighter and with more treble presence ending up in a feeling of better clarity.
I’ve always found the comfort on the stock Grado’s to be terrible due to the combination of the weight of the housings and my small head. I’m also not particular found of on ears so I’ve modded my 325is with a HD650 head pad and some OEM velour pads and in this configuration I’d say that comfort is about equal between the two. The construction on the Grado’s is very simple but the material is also very good so I’d say that build quality is also equal on the two.
At 32Ohm/98dB the SR325is are rated very similar to the X2’s and that also shows in practice where I use them with the volume pot in the same place for both.
Fidelio X2 vs Fischer Audio FA-011:
The FA-011 was a revelation as an open headphone with great bass impact a couple of years ago. Compared to the X2’s they’ve got less sub bass and more mid-bass and also lose out in bass quality. They’ve got a much smaller soundstage in both depth and width and honestly are outclassed sonically by the X2’s.
Comfort is very good on both although the stock pads on the FA-011’s very thin so I’ve replaced them with some HiFiMAN velour pads and that works really well. I really love the wood housing of the FA-011’s but apart from that the construction is flimsy and gives a cheap feeling so overall build quality is definitely better on the X2’s.
At 160 Ohm/98dB the FA-011 are quite a bit harder to drive compared to the X2.
While the Fidelio X2 is not the headphone for someone preferring a cold “neutral” sound I honestly don’t find it to be particular warm either but rather full and natural sounding.
The fact that they sound great out of any source and with any kind of music makes them the best all round headphone I’ve ever owned and I get a bit scared when thinking about what it’ll cost me to move up to a significantly better sound. Luckily I’m in no hurry for that since I still fully enjoy the Fidelio X2’s and expecting to do so for a long time still.